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Overlapped at the finish
Close finishes were common in the J/105 Invitational at Sausalito YC. ©2016 Pat Broderick
Sausalito J/105 Regatta

July 27, 2016

Sausalito Yacht Club's 2016 J/105 Invitational Regatta attracted 19 vintage 105s for two days of racing just west of Alcatraz Island on July 23-24. Racers enjoyed a brisk westerly wind, which, along with a healthy flood current on the Alcatraz Shoal, created fast windward-leeward races. Saturday featured thee races; Sunday completed the series with two. Following each day's racing, boats and crews made their way back to the SYC clubhouse for drinks, sailing tales, and dinner. Sunday also featured awards.

Saturday's start line was set near the Little Alcatraz buoy amid more than a dozen fishing boats drifting down with the flood — just to make starting a little more interesting. The leeward gate was set west of the start line and the windward mark about 1.15 miles to the west. The course was twice around, for a length of approximately 4.6 miles. PRO Jeff Zarwell, assisted by former SYC commodore and race director Tim Prouty, efficiently got each race started, with mark adjustments between races for a fair course as the wind and current changed during the afternoon.

Nineteen boats made the start of the regatta. ©2016 Pat Broderick

The 1200 gun Saturday, an hour and a half before the 3.1-knot max flood, saw boats trying both the left and right side of the course, with those going toward the shore benefitting more. After rounding the windward mark, most opted for the south gate buoy and the shore for the second lap. At the end of race #1 the downwind finish boats stretched out in a line, with several failing to reach the finish line before the 10-minutes-after-the-first-finisher deadline.

The SYC race committee got race #2 underway as soon as all the boats were back. The increasing current presented a problem for the start of race #2, with a majority of competitors bunched up at the pin end, resulting in the day's only general recall. The second attempt was successful, with all boats staying on starboard as they sailed one long tack toward the countercurrent along the San Francisco shore. The first windward rounding was closely packed. The leeward gate saw a split, with most boats choosing the south side, and a few opting for the north, with all boats immediately headed back for land. The second finish resulted in several close whistles, as overlapped boats crossed the line.

Brent Vaughan's Jabberwocky. ©2016 Pat Broderick

With only seconds to go before the 1700 deadline for starting race #3, the gun went off and the boats were off for the day's final race. Again, everyone headed for the beach, and the now-strong countercurrent along the shore. Once into the countercurrent, boats short-tacked up toward Anita Rock before jumping off for the windward mark. The third race gate rounding of the day saw more boats selecting the north buoy as the flood began to ease. They fared better than boats going for the south end of the gate as they headed back for shore and back to the windward mark. The finish again featured overlaps, with half boatlengths separating finishers.

Pat Benedict's Advantage3. ©2016 Pat Broderick

Back at the clubhouse, boats moored out with crews ferried in by the SYC launch. They were greeted at the gangway by Commodore Bill Aubrey and Race Director Chuck Cihak who handed each a glass of amber liquid to welcome them to the club. It was summer on the Sausalito Riviera, so everyone enjoyed a late afternoon and evening on the deck, with dinner later on.

Sunday's races got underway with a later 3.0-knot flood and wind moving into the low-mid 20s sooner. The heavy chop made it difficult for the race committee to keep the top mark in place, and after the final race was started, even the committee boat with 200 feet of chain and a large anchor dragged. It was a wet ride for rail-sitters on the racing boats.

Race #4 in the series began with two general recalls at which time the RC hoisted the Zulu flag, which tamed the fleet and finally resulted in an orderly start. As on Saturday, everyone headed for the St. Francis YC on the first beat, then tacked up the Presidio until jumping off for the windward mark. The leeward gate rounding saw all boats headed back for the shoreline for a repeat of the first lap. The spinnaker parade to the finish line again provided the RC with a chance to time overlaps.

Before the final race was started the windward mark had to be reset again as the increasing current and wind 'adjusted' its position. Then, as the guns began to go off for Race #5, the National Park Service's scow schooner Alma decided to join the starting sequence, which resulted in a postponement while she cleared the area.

Race #5 was a repeat of #4, but without the general recalls and "Z" flag. At the end of the day, the SYC protest committee was handed two protests, resulting in one DSQ.

Back at the clubhouse on Sunday afternoon, a pulled-pork buffet and jazz quartet on the deck welcomed the racers. Once again the 'Sausalito Riviera' allowed for shirtsleeve lounging before the awards ceremony began.

Bruce Stone's Arbitrage won the 2016 SYC J/105 Invitational Regatta with two firsts, a second, a third and a tenth in this no-toss-out event. Stephen Kent's Perseverence came in second with 19 ponts and Phillip Laby's Godot placed third with 23 points. Fourth place went to Ryan Simmon's Blackhawk and fifth to Adam Spiegel's Jam Session, which both scored 25 points, Blackhawk winning the tie breaker. Full results are at the SYC website,

— Pat Broderick

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